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Helping Children Confront Fears
October 2, 2023
Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.
-Judy Blume, American writer

"We hypothesise that ample opportunities to engage in adventurous play during early and middle childhood will decrease children’s risk for problematic anxiety by providing children with exposure to fear-provoking situations during play which, in turn, provides opportunities for children to learn about coping, uncertainty and physiological arousal," write Helen F. Dodd and Kathryn J. Lester in "Adventurous Play as a Mechanism for Reducing Risk for Childhood Anxiety: A Conceptual Model," which appears on PubMed Central, a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine.

Exploring how children can benefit from confronting potentially frightening topics, such as "bad guys," is at the heart of Donna King’s important book, Pursuing Bad Guys: Joining Children’s Quest for Clarity, Courage and Community, part of the Reimagining Our Work (ROW) collection. King's book is a courageous and authentic account of what it means to truly listen to children, reflect with them, respect their thinking, and, as teachers, leave the comfort zones of "familiar" experiences. Donna writes about the ideas that she, her co-teacher, and their mentor, Pam Oken-Wright, discuss as they begin on a new venture, which they call "reciprocally-created research."

King explains:

"We will listen, yes, but not simply to document. We will listen in order to connect with the children’s thinking and emotion, and to align with their intention, in a way that is not intrusive, but informed, and therefore genuinely respectful and responsive. In this way of working, teacher action does not interrupt, but, instead, meets up with the children’s agenda. Even more compelling, Pam is convinced that the teacher’s involvement – when sensitive enough – can help children move from mere preoccupation with a concern to a sense of mastery and empowerment around that concern. We are unsettled but intrigued."


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Nancy Rosenow · October 04, 2023
Lincoln , NE, United States

Lois, my first reaction to your good question is deep sadness that drills for live shooters are even necessary. I would like to hear from anyone who has had experiences with the ALICE training. Thank you for bringing this forward.

Lois M. Ingellis · October 02, 2023
Empire State College
Castro Valley, CA, United States

How does this fit in with the ALICE training many schools are undertaking? This is a for profit company training teachers how to talk with TK-12 graders .They created scripts and books I'm not scared I'm prepared for different levels. With drills preparing for live shooter on campus. What are people's experiences around this?

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